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DHSC overdue on two climate targets, say Government advisers

DHSC overdue on two climate targets, say Government advisers
By Jess Hacker
28 June 2023

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is overdue on two of its climate change targets, according to the Government’s own advisers as part of an overall damning report.

The Climate Change Committee has today (28 June) said that the UK Government’s action on climate change is ‘worryingly slow’, with the committee stating its confidence in the UK meeting its goals from 2030 is ‘markedly less’ today than it was last year.

On health, advisers warned that the DHSC is overdue on two of its recommendations which were set out in last year’s report intended to be in place by end of Q1 2023.

These include publicly committing to additional ringfenced funding to cover its Net Zero Plan and to end the use of Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs) for all patients where alternatives can be used.

It also highlighted that work is ongoing to deliver climate policy that also has health benefits, such as active travel, access to green spaces, air quality, better buildings and healthier diets.

In 2021, all four UK health administrations pledged services will have net zero climate impact by 2045.

NHS England set a target to reach an 80% reduction on emissions it controls directly by 2028 to 2032 and to reach net zero by 2040. For emmissions it can influence it pledged to reach net zero by 2045, with an 80$ reduction by 2036 to 2039.

Commenting on the report, Lord Deben, chairman of the Climate Change Committee, said: ‘The lesson of my ten years at the Climate Change Committee is that early action benefits the people of this country and helps us to meet the challenges of the coming decades more cheaply and more easily.

‘Yet, even in these times of extraordinary fossil fuel prices, Government has been too slow to embrace cleaner, cheaper alternatives and too keen to support new production of coal, oil and gas. There is a worrying hesitancy by Ministers to lead the country to the next stage of Net Zero commitments.’

He said that this was a period where ‘pace must be prioritised over perfection’.

UK greenhouse gas emissions have fallen 46% from 1990 levels. At COP26 in 2021, the UK made a stretching 2030 commitment to reduce them by 68%.

This would mean the recent rate of annual emissions reduction outside the electricity supply sector must therefore quadruple.

Other key findings for the report include:

  • The UK has sent ‘confusing signals’ on its climate priorities to the global community
  • There is lacking support for decarbonised industry
  • And the deployment of essential upgrades to the national grid and other Net Zero infrastructure is being ‘stymied’ by ‘restrictive’ planning rules.

No progress has been made on the seven priority recommendations to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) set out in last year’s report.

This includes undertaking a review of tax policy’s role in delivering Net Zero, in line with the Glasgow Climate Pact commitment to phase out inefficient fossil fuel usage.

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